Frequent flyer points aplenty

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

You can excuse Carmelo Anthony if he and the Denver Nuggets couldn't give a history lesson of Edmonton yesterday. It's preseason, and Denver has been put on more miles through the air than they do on some mid-season road trips.

"I am in Edmonton, Canada, that's all I know," smiled Anthony yesterday after the Nuggets practised yesterday at Rexall Place for tonight's NBA exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors.

Do you know what province you're in?

"I have no idea," smiled Anthony.

The name of the building you're playing in?

"I have no idea," he continued.

"There's a lot of history here with (Wayne) Gretzky and (Mark) Messier in this building. I would like to get out and explore this city, but as of right now, I'm blind."

Travel has been crazy for Denver through the preseason, but it hasn't seemed to hinder their play as they've posted a 4-1 record.

They've played just two preseason games at home at the Pepsi Centre, with the other games in Palm Springs against the Phoenix Suns, against the Suns in Syracuse, N.Y., and one in Bismark, N.D., against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Tonight they are here against the Raptors before closing out their preseason schedule in L.A. against the Clippers.

The Nuggets had their third 50-win campaign in franchise history last season. Their 50-32 record would've got them home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference, but in the West, it was just good enough for the No. 8 seed and a first round date with the eventual conference champion L.A. Lakers.

"To win 50 games, that's a lot, but we had to win 14 of our last 20 just to make the playoffs," said Nuggets head coach George Karl.

"It was just a tough run, and actually I think the regular season wore us out because we had so many emotional games in season and then you have to play the Western Conference champions in the first round and we didn't perform very well."

The season could very well come down to how well they manoeuvre a tough schedule.

"Our schedule is brutal the first two months. I haven't told anybody in America yet, but I have us (pegged) that if we are a .500 team on New Year's Day we are in a good place," remarked Karl.

"We could actually be a game or two under .500 the first few months and we'd still be OK, that's how brutal our schedule is.

"January is good to us and March and April are great to us, but someone told me that Vegas only has us favoured in six of our first 25 games.

"We're not just playing on the road, we are playing the Lakers, San Antonio, Phoenix ... we're playing the big boys."

With Anthony and Allen Iverson (who won't play tonight because of an injury) getting more and more comfortable playing together, and a healthy Kenyon Martin, the Nuggets have a chance to become one of the "big boys" themselves.

"This is going to be our second full season together and we are becoming the best of friends on and off the court," said Anthony in regards to Iverson.

But while the Nuggets are one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA, their defence has held them back.

"We're getting it together (defensively)," Anthony said. "This season we are really going to show people that we can come together as a team, and not just be a powerhouse, but a powerhouse in the Western Conference."


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